Life’s Five Phases

Life’s Five Phases From Paul Bell The last few posts I have written described what I currently seek and am aware of in my life, in order to make it fulfilling and joyful. However, we all pass through phases in our development, each with a focus upon different elements within our lives. For me, and for my children, it has been useful to be aware of what stage in life we are currently, in order to maximize the benefits of that stage and not to pass beyond it until we feel ready. The first stage is an educative stage. Others around us are bringing out our potential, feeding us the methods, information, and knowledge we will find useful in our lives. Anyone who creates a passion and excitement for learning within us are our educators. Sadly, the formal education methods in many countries use this time to grade and sort the population. All the regular testing and examinations are not conducive to this potentially wonderful time of discovery and wonder. In fact, they help create a competitive and comparative society with the belief that this is a normal way for us to behave. Many education systems also believe that we should educate our population to fill the employment gaps in our economy, thus creating the utilitarian pegs to fit the required holes. That is a feeble attempt to bring out the potential in our children. In the current rapidly changing world, we certainly cannot predict the future. It would be better to create a flexible, confident, broadly educated population who are always keen to learn and grow. When James Campbell stated that “education is the expansion of the experience of being alive” there were very few limits and narrow goals. Assuming that we were not too wounded or compressed by the last educative stage it is now time to thrive in the experiencing stage. Our cultural norm would like us to find a good job and career but there is still a great deal of hands-on learning through experimentation to do to understand our full potential. We are all trying a host of experiences currently. I wanted to climb mountains alone around the world and work and live in different cultures. It’s a time to truly open your mind and push your limits into experiential discovery. Two very good stages but up to now a little self-centered. The next creative…

We Can Accomplish Anything We Set Our Minds To

We Can Accomplish Anything We Set Our Minds To From Grant Bartlett, PhD “The Mind Is Not a Vessel to be Filled, but a Fire to be Kindled” --- Plutarch My Father informed me at a very early age that I could accomplish anything that I turned my mind to – and I believed him. There is an interesting observation in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland”. “There is no use trying”. Said Alice, “One can’t believe impossible things”. “I dare say you haven’t much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for one half hour a day. Why sometimes I have believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast and acted upon them.” In the shadow of history, we find hints of the future. I believe there is an entire spectrum of creative imagination ranging from the mundane to the miraculous, a spectrum greater than most of us would declare impossible. Most barriers can be overcome one step at a time, and the impossible becomes possible. Creativity and innovation require both inner searching and outer action. Although I have read dozens of books and observed myriads of charts on colleagues’ office walls discussing creativity and innovation ad infinitum, I have always believed that creativity is that single “Eureka” nanosecond, light bulb “on” thought – the making of something out of nothing. And innovation is just another way of describing teamwork. For example, I have a thought, discuss it with a friend, who discusses it with others, and soon we have a plan to raise capital for an exciting new product. And we realize that some of the best lessons are learned from listening and communicating openly. This is outer action. Within each of us lies the entire world of our potential. If we understand how to look and learn, then we hold the magical key to unlock our potential. I believe that it is ourselves who hold that magical key to the door of creativity. Regarding outer action, Peter Drucker states that ideas are cheap and abundant. The key is the effective placement of those ideas into situations that lead to ACTION. Observation becomes Generation. Focus is paramount to attaining our objectives. Opportunity comes to those who are prepared. I smile when I remember a cute story of Lucy and Charlie Brown on a cruise. Lucy remarks “Charlie Brown, did you notice that…

The Vital Connection Between Action and Reason

The Vital Connection Between Action and Reason From Paul Bell I lead my life with a firm belief in the eudaemonic way. The simple definition of eudaimonia is that enduring happiness and contentment don’t come from the accumulation of fleeting material rewards, and the experience of joys and pleasures, but are the result of an active life governed by reason tempered by understanding and wisdom. Eudaimonia has more to it than just being happy. It is a condition of human flourishing and living well, in which the rational activity as the product of reason should be performed well or excellently. I admit that like most important values it is an aspiration but it is an energizing, virtuous goal to aim for. Many of us can justly claim to be active but have we used our wisdom and reason to determine which actions to focus on? Or do we allow our culture’s norms and desires to dictate many of our actions? The unavoidable finite span of life should make us think and even feel with intention when deciding upon what to do with each precious moment? Instead, so many of us seem to act as if we had an infinite life, putting so many things off for a later time. For many people the default mode is to carry on doing what we are currently doing. The best predictor of tomorrow’s behavior is today’s. Our culture’s norms and desires have created a very believable - and in some ways attractive - game. There is a vast book of set rules, winners, losers, goal-scorers, defenders, those who sit waiting for their chance to play from the sidelines. The game is powerful and for so many of us it is addictive. The next time you return home on a Friday evening, slump down in a chair and wonder what that last hectic week was all about you might ask yourself why you play the game. Perhaps you play the game to make a living and if you enjoy your part in the game and feel fulfilled and happy, then you probably have used a good degree of reason to select your action. However, if this is not the case then stand back for moment and realize that you do not have to play the game with such an extremely tight rule book. Your potential to survive happily in this world is almost limitless.…

The Relationship Connection

The Relationship Connection From Paul Bell A vital component that is often overlooked when considering a healthy lifestyle is the type of relationships that we have. There are many types of relationships, such as families, friendships, and romantic couples, but strangely enough, whichever ones you are engaged in, the quality and sometimes number of those relationships will have a direct effect on your longevity. According to recent research, good relationships can reduce levels of anxiety and depression, raise your levels of self-esteem and even improve your immune system. Creating good relationships in your life can be as effective as a healthy diet and exercise in improving the quality and length of your life. But what is a good relationship? A good way to start to answer this question is to consider if you are being intentional about creating and improving your relationships. Are you paying attention to the others in the relationship and to how you are behaving in that relationship? For example, when you are working on a task together, are you entirely focused on the task completion or are you also aware of how the others are feeling? Can you talk openly between each other about issues rather than trying to find answers by talking with friends? Are you able to be yourselves within the relationship? Can you deeply respect each other? Does the relationship contribute energy or drain it? Are you aware that a good relationship is based upon who you are and not just who you meet or are related to? In short, relationships are wonderful but they can also be difficult or painful if you fail to pay attention to them. Fourteen years ago my wife (to be) and I met; we suspected that we could have the potential for a very good relationship but we had a problem. We lived a 13 hour drive apart and neither of us were interested in a relationship that would just drag along with occasional meetings. We had to get to know each other so that we could decide if our relationship would be good enough to change our locations and perhaps even jobs. My profession was in helping teams, particularly large project teams, become more effective by getting to know each other well, rather than just knowing each other by their job titles. I suspected that the same techniques could also work for us as a couple…

10 “Lessons for Living”

10 “Lessons for Living” From Grant Bartlett, PhD On my bookmark, I keep these 10 Lessons for Living: 1. Live with Passion 2. Lead with Vision 3. Listen with Respect 4. Communicate Openly 5. Celebrate Being 6. Share Experiences 7. Dedicate Time 8. Focus on Children 9. Champion “We”ism 10. Build a Legacy The backside of the bookmark has one of my favorite quotes by Confucius… I hear, and I forget. I see, and I remember. I do, and I understand. As an example, “Live with Passion” focuses on the three P’s of Success: Purpose, Passion and Perseverance. We must have Purpose and we must have Passion for all that we do. However, I argue that it is Perseverance that is the most critical. For instance, in any endeavor, in study, work, sports, business those who persevere are generally those who succeed. In business most failures are the result of underestimating the time and finances required to build an entity. If you believe it will take two years, it will take you four. If you believe it will take $1,000,000 it will take $3,000,000. Consequently, most give up after one or two setbacks. When, I started on my own, I wanted to build a natural gas company because it was perceived to be the “Cleanest” of the hydrocarbons. And, having just left Academia as an Environmental stalwart, it was a good fit. I knew I could keep our four-person Team going financially for two years. I traveled all over North America, UK and Europe seeking financing for a natural gas company and received 126 No’s. We were down to our last week. It was Tuesday, and we needed $1.82 M by 5:00 pm Friday or we would lose our $2.5 M deposit on a $25.0 M transaction. Now, we could complete the deal with bridge financiers and Angel investors for 90% of the Company. Miraculously, a person appeared serendipitously and financed the whole transaction for 20% of the Company. We never looked back. We had a Purpose and Passion beyond belief for the project. Fortunately, and ultimately, Perseverance prevailed. I believe the same approach must be taken to everyday Life. The world is in chaos and racked by Covid-19. We can ignore it, as many are wanting to do. Or we can address it head on, persevere and build a safer, more community minded and people-first world. Grant Bartlett, PhD…